Gun safety should be top of the list for all responsible gun owners. Before you decide which gun to purchase, you should look at how you’re going to store it, secure and safely locked away from all unauthorized access. Keeping your firearm locked up prevents theft or misuse from your children and, in many states, it is a requirement in the home.
Protect your valuables
Apart from the security angle, your handgun and rifle are expensive items, which you want to protect, not only from theft, but also from fire or water damage. Gun safes are also a very convenient place to store your valuables, like precious jewelry.
Tons of research
In order to buy the right gun safe for your requirements, you’ll need to do a lot of research, looking at all the many features and issues, such as cost, access, strength, size, storage space, fire proof, water proof, warranty and insurance.
Below is a list of out top ten gun safe picks. Good luck.
|Gun Safe||Style||Our Rating|
|First Alert 5200DF||Handgun||4.2|
|AmazonBasics Security Safe||Handgun||4.2|
|BCP Large 5 Rifle Digital Gun Safe||Rifle||4.0|
|Cannon Safe 5524-30-H1TEC-17||Rifle||4.2|
|Barska Biometric Rifle Safe AX11652||Rifle||3.9|
|Stealth Handgun Hanger Safe||Handgun||4.1|
- 1 Our 10 Best Gun Safe Choices
- 1.1 1. First Alert 5200DF Portable Handgun or Pistol Safe
- 1.2 2. GunVault SV500 – SpeedVault Handgun Safe
- 1.3 3. Stack-On GCB-8RTA Steel 8-Gun ready to Assemble Security Cabinet
- 1.4 4. AmazonBasics Security Safe – 0.5-Cubic Feet
- 1.5 5. BCP Large 5 Rifle Firearm Digital Gun Safe Electronic Lock Storage Steel Cabinet
- 1.6 6. Stack-On PDS-1500 Drawer Safe with Electronic Lock
- 1.7 7. Cannon Safe 5524-30-H1TEC-17 Foxtrot 24
- 1.8 8. Gunvault GV2000S Multi Vault Standard Gun Safe
- 1.9 9. Barska Quick Access Biometric Rifle Safe AX11652
- 1.10 10. Stealth Handgun Hanger Safe Quick Access Electronic Pistol Security Box
- 2 Why you need a Gun Safe
- 3 The Importance of Steel Thickness
- 4 Fireproof Gun Safes?
- 5 What are the Different Locking Mechanisms
- 6 What size gun safe do I need
- 7 Gun Laws in Different States
- 7.1 Types of legislation
- 7.2 New laws loosen gun restrictions
- 7.3 What is next for states
- 8 Your Most Frequently Asked Questions
- 8.1 Q. Do I need a gun safe?
- 8.2 Q. Are gun safes fireproof?
- 8.3 Q. Do I need a dehumidifier in my gun safe?
- 8.4 Q. How big a gun safe do I need?
- 8.5 Q. Are gun safes airtight?
- 8.6 Q. Should gun safes be anchored down?
- 8.7 Q. What do gun safes cost?
- 8.8 Q. What are better, internal or external hinges?
- 8.9 Q. What is the best location for a gun safe?
- 8.10 Q. What is biometric locking?
- 8.11 Q. Will my gun safe need maintenance?
- 8.12 Q. How important is steel thickness?
- 8.13 Q. Can I fit a new electronic lock to replace an old dial lock?
- 8.14 Q. If my battery dies, will I lose my combination?
- 8.15 Q. What is lock out mode?
Our 10 Best Gun Safe Choices
This handy size portable gun safe is becoming more popular as people find valid reasons to take their firearm with them as they travel. There are many good reasons for having access to your handgun when outside. Not everyone has a concealed carry license (CCW), so the market for portable handgun or pistol gun safes, has grown. But, of course, the same safety concerns will apply to a portable safe as apply to a non-portable home gun safe.
When considering the purchase of a portable safe, what is most important, security or easy access? The First Alert 5200DF Portable Handgun or Pistol Safe provides a successful blend of security and accessibility.
Who needs a portable gun safe?
- Gun owners who don’t possess a concealed carry license (check local state laws)
- Gun owners who want to be secure while travelling
- Law enforcement or security personnel
- Those opposed to “open carry” or the act of publicly carrying a firearm on one’s person in plain sight
- People who may feel at risk in the street or in their car
- Firearms instructors who may want to demonstrate this gun safe
- Quick access: Once the code is entered, a spring-loaded locking mechanism is opened giving quick access to your firearm
- Durable construction: This gun safe is constructed with durable 18-gauge powder coated steel
- Programmable keypad: Quick access in seconds using the “no see” keypad utilizing a 3-8-digit code.
- Foam lining: the whole of the interior is lined with foam to protect your firearm and ammunition
- Certified by CA DoJ: This portable safe is certified by the California Department of Justice, one of the USA’s foremost justice departments
A novel idea a few years ago, but pretty much an essential piece of equipment these days for people who travel and want to feel secure and protected. We highly recommend this quick access, portable gun safe.
This handgun safe is built to a high specification. A quick access gun safe made from 18-gauge steel designed to be mounted on a wall or under a desk, keeping it secure but very accessible. The shape of this gun safe means that your gun is stored in an upright position. It is a relatively small safe and can therefore be easily concealed out of sight.
The gun cradle features a fully lined interior to prevent scratching and other damage. To unlock the gun, enter your personal code using the digital keypad located on the top of the safe. The digital keypad can be coded with 12 million sequences making it virtually impossible to guess.
The sage will block access for a set period to anyone trying to unlock it following 24 consecutive incorrect keypad entries. After this, it will go into security sleep mode which lasts for two minutes. If access is attempted during this two-minute period, an alarm will beep
- Quick access digital keypad
- High strength lock mechanism
- Fast activation drop-down drawer for quick access
- 18-gauge steel construction with foam lined interior
- Multiple mounting options, parts included
- Includes two back up override keys
- Interior courtesy light
The revolutionary design of this handgun safe is the ideal choice for a home or a business looking for added security. It simply fulfills its purpose, to give easy access to a firearm in an emergency and to keep the firearm safely out of the reach of children or intruders.
With new gun laws being added and being proposed, gun storage cabinets have become a must have. They are essential to keep your firearms and accessories out of people’s reach, especially if you have kids at home. This is a sturdy gun cabinet that serves its purpose – it is not a gun safety option, it is a good storage cabinet.
The design of this cabinet provides plenty of space inside for guns of 52” in length, 8 rifles easily fit in the standing space. The removable steel shelf provides excellent storage space for all your gun accessories, handguns and ammunition.
- Space for eight rifles or shotguns up to 52” tall
- Removable steel shelf
- 3-point locking system with double bitted key coded lock
- Full length welded and staked steel piano hinge provides greater security
- Stack-On’s patented barrel standoffs for scoped guns
- Flush mount bottom for easy fastening to the floor
- Foam padded bottom and barrel rests reduce scratching
- Pre-drilled mounting holes allow easy attachment to the floor or wall
- California Department of Justice approved
- Welded steel box construction
- Easy to assemble with integrated, form fitting parts, fastened together with tamper proof fasteners
This storage cabinet comes with a host of useful features and is within most people’s budget. Highly recommended.
This safe, which is sold exclusively through Amazon, is a perfect low-cost solution for safely storing your valuables, jewelry, precious documents or handgun. There is plenty of room inside and it has a steel body construction. Access is obtained using an electronic keypad with backup keys in case of power loss. It is also has a carpeted floor to help protect against scratches and damage.
The steel door is hard to pry open due to concealed hinges. The removable shelf will give you more storage space if you wish. The 4-point mounting system means you can mount this safe on the floor, a wall or a shelf.
It is not fireproof and waterproof which is to be expected given the low cost.
- 0.5 cubic feet security safe with electronic lock and 2 emergency override keys
- Steel construction with carpeted floor to protect against scratches
- 2 live-door bolts and pry-resistant concealed hinges
- Adjustable/removable interior shelf
- Reprogrammable digital access
- Four bolts included to mount the safe
- Dimensions are 13.8” x 9.8” x 9.8”
- Weighs approximately 16.5 pounds
- Has a digital display indicating locked, unlocked and low battery
This small safe is a perfect low-cost solution for storing your valuables and is a far better solution than not securing your valuables. It has a solid, well-built construction with security features that will deter intruders. A best buy amongst its competitors.
This easy to program electronic gun lockbox is perfect for storage and safe security in your home. Made with heavy duty, solid steel, this product was constructed with indestructible durability and a sleek design in mind.
Store away up to 5 rifles and keep ammunition or other small valuables in the interior lockbox. The interior floor is padded with grey carpet to prevent scratches on your firearms and safe.
Lock away with the electronic keypad by creating your own passcode or manually lock it with a key (includes 4 spare keys). For convenient security of firearms at home, purchase the Digital Gun Safe today.
- Easy to program electronic gun lockbox, perfect for safe storage
- Heavy duty, solid steel construction
- Store up to 5 rifles plus store ammunition and other accessories in the interior lockbox
- Electronic keypad, create your own passcode or manually lock with a key (includes 4 spares)
- Padded interior floor to reduce scratching
This cabinet offers an excellent low-cost solution to store up to 5 rifles. Good value for money.
A great product for storing all your precious documents, handgun, ammunition, money and cards. Designed with a solid steel material, this safe is perfect for keeping all unauthorized people such as children and thieves from accessing your personal valuables. With an outstanding user feedback, most customers have managed to use the Stack-On PDS-1500 in their offices to store essential documents as well as in their cars to keep their money and ammunition safe from theft.
The electronic lock includes a dashboard faceplate that makes it easy to view the status of your safe. The key pad will beep when a button is touched, letting you know you have pressed a key. The beeps can be turned off or on with the press of the megaphone button. There is a time out period after 3 incorrect combination attempts. Your safe includes a backup key should your batteries lose power or if you forget your combination. Combinations can be changed easily by pressing a button located on the back of the door and entering a new combination.
This drawer safe has solid steel pry-resistant doors, interlocking bolts and concealed hinges for improved security. The safe can be mounted on the floor, or to a wall or shelf using pre-drilled holes – the fastening hardware is included.
- Perfect size to fit inside a drawer
- 2 live action steel locking bolts
- Concealed hinges
- Easy to program electronic lock
- Time out period after 3 incorrect combination attempts
- Pre-drilled holes for mounting the safe
This safe is available at an affordable price and therefore represents an excellent solution for the storage of your small valuables. Consequently, this product has a high star rating from customers.
This excellent safe has a 24-gun capacity and is protected by Trulock internal hinges. It has a 30-minute fire rating, tested at 1100 degrees C. It features a triple fin intumescent seal that expands during a fire to provide more protection. With a thick layer of steel, three locking bolt mechanism and an advanced locking system, it is virtually impossible for thieves to pry this safe open.
It is protected by Trulock internal hinges which makes the door rock solid. It uses an electronic locking system. Users can set a 4 to 8-digit secret code out of 12 million possible combinations. The Foxtrot 24 gun safe gives you protection for your valuables at the best price.
- 30-minute fire rating
- 24 gun capacity
- 3 locking bolts
- Electronic programmable lock
- Trulock internal hinges
- Triple fin intumescent seal
- Lifetime repair warranty
Take advantage of this special buy gun safe. Good value.
If you keep a handgun and ammunition at home, a gun safe is essential for securing your most valuable and potentially dangerous possessions out of the reach of children and intruders. This safe is an excellent and compact solution for the home providing quick access to your firearm or valuables.
This safe is large enough to hold two handguns plus ammunition. The electronic keypad was quick to operate and the spring assisted door opening is impressive.
- No-eyes keypad provides quick access even in the dark
- High strength lock mechanism
- Audio and LED low-battery warning
- 16-gauge steel housing
- Interior foam padding
- Delay/block after 24 consecutive incorrect combination attempts
- External power jack to avoid using or supplement batteries
- Deluxe model comes with a motion sensor and alarm that goes off when tampered with
This safe is a true premium product that set the standard for the rest of the industry.
This gun safe is designed to hold up to 4 rifles. Safe access is provided in the form of the Barska biometric fingerprint reader which can store up to 120 fingerprints. This safe is ideal for storing your rifles safely out of the reach of children but leaving them quickly accessible in case of an emergency. The lock opens within 4 seconds with just the touch of your finger even in the dark without keys or fumbling with number pads or combination dials.
Inside the safe is a 4 position rest to keep your rifles or shotguns upright and stored neatly. There is also a small shelf fitted inside the safe that can be used to store ammo and spare magazines. The safe body is made out of 2mm steel and locks via a 3-point deadlocking system.
The safe beeps when opened to let you know that the safe is being accessed but this feature can be turned off giving the safe the ability to operate in stealth mode when it can be opened silently. This allows you to get to your firearm without warning any intruders. The AX11652 rifle safe is supplied pre-drilled with 4 mounting holes and comes complete with a set of mounting bolts for fixing the safe securely in situ to prevent it being removed by an intruder.
- Smart biometric technology stores 120 fingerprints
- Unlock the safe with a reliable 2.5 sec biometric scan
- Solid steel construction
- Holds up to 4 rifles
- 3 steel deadbolts
- Backup access, unlock with keys provided
- Department of Justice approved
- Barska free technical support
This is a good biometric rifle safe which provides easy and quick access to your firearms in an emergency. The fingerprint reader works well with a high degree of accuracy. Great value for money.
Inspired by tactical enthusiasts’ desire for handguns at the ready, there is nothing faster than a drop down door and your choice of 3 “hanging” handguns to choose from. Stealth Handgun Hanger Safe utilizes three steel rods to hold your three favorite handguns at the ready. Coated in a heat shrink tubing, the rods are protected to ensure the inside of the barrels are not scratched, damaged or marred. Just slide your handgun on to the rod and you are ready for action.
New and Improved, the Stealth Handgun Hanger door is now comprised of a 2-piece steel door over 3/8″ thick. Spring loaded, the door quickly drops right after the correct combination is entered. The weight of the door is so heavy, Stealth added a speed reducer that catches the door just before it slams onto a hard surface for a soft finish. The door is also recessed from the frame and when added with the thickness and latch strength, it makes this safe nearly impossible to pry open.
The quick access Electronic Keypad stores your choice of a 6 digit combination and illuminates with a blue light after the first button is activated. With audible feedback, you’ll know the button has been pushed and after the correct combination is completed, the door drops down activating a red interior light allowing you to easily see inside, even in the dark. New to the Handgun Hanger Safe is an optional silent mode, simply press the change combination button 6 times and all buttons and functions will be silenced making your safe completely Stealth. In the back of the safe is an interior shelf capable of storing an additional 1 large clip or 2 small clips. The safe is completely lined with high density foam on all sides and finished with a Stealth tactical black paint job. Maximum capacity for the Stealth Handgun Hanger Safe is 5 handguns and 2 clips.
Located on the bottom of the safe are 4 bolt down holes. A free security cable is also included to ensure a thief is unable to just pick up the safe and open it on their own time. With all solid steel construction, a thick steel door and the battery located on the inside, this safe is insanely difficult to tamper with and extremely pry-resistant, preventing unauthorized access and leaving you feeling confident that your children will not be able to access your handguns. New and Improved, this handgun safe is totally Straw and Pick Proof with the addition of a welded steel lock housing that prevents anything from tampering with the release mechanism.
- Holds 3 handguns hanging ready plus 2 handguns flat
- Quick access, spring loaded drop down door with red interior light and optional silent mode (later model)
- Solid steel construction with anti-pry tabs
- High strength locking latch
- High strength security cable
- High density foam interior
- CA DoJ approved
Popular and durable. For the size and the amount of space inside, it’s a great buy at the price.
Why you need a Gun Safe
Every responsible gun owner needs a gun safe. Guns are deadly weapons and extremely dangerous in the wrong hands, your children or a thief. Homeowners could prevent almost all firearm accidents by taking the proper precautions. When keeping guns secure, proper storage in the form a gun safe can be the most effective way pf preventing accidents.
Safe storage laws require people to responsibly store their firearms and ammunition when they are not in use in order to prevent minors, thieves, and other unauthorized users from gaining unsupervised access to deadly weapons.
You cannot simply keep your gun on the shelf or somewhere accessible. It requires a specific place, which has to be inaccessible to unauthorized persons. For instance, we can take the case of children. You’d have to make sure that your children cannot access the guns at any point of time. Gun safes are containers that help you store the gun securely in such an efficient way that only you will have access to it. Obviously, there are different kinds of gun safes you can find on the market, which come with different locking mechanism and additional features. Go for the best one you can afford, offering the best security for your firearms.
Protect your children
Project Child Safe champions the SAFE acronym:
- Securing firearms when not in use
- Awareness of individuals who shouldn’t have unauthorized gun access
- Focus on firearm ownership responsibility
- Education for all about safe firearm storage and handling
Children are very curious and you should educate them about the negative side of firearms. Don’t keep firearms a mystery (“Oh, I’ll tell you when you’re older”), explain how they work and why they are used. Explain that they can be extremely dangerous and are not toys.
Although no federal legal requirements currently exist, the District of Columbia, alongside 27 states have all issued requirements that children should be prevented access to guns through the use of safes. The children in question do not have to belong to you, and the penalties for allowing any child access to a gun can vary according to the outcome of negligent storage practices.
Even if you never have any children present within your home – many states will still require you to lock your guns away. Currently, eleven states have laws regarding firearm locking devices, and California even has standards in place to determine how secure a firearm safety device must be. Massachusetts is the only state at this time that requires all firearms to be stored using a lock, whereas New York, Connecticut and California impose such a requirement within specific circumstances. However, other state laws are more general, and center on the concept of keeping firearms secure and out of the hands of unauthorized users.
Unintentional deaths and injuries
Every year, firearms cause thousands of unintentional deaths and injuries. Recent research on unintentional shootings has found that such accidents “occurred roughly twice as often as the records indicate, because of idiosyncrasies in how such deaths are classified by the authorities.” Even these lower reported numbers indicate that from 2005 to 2014, roughly 20,000 American minors were killed or seriously injured in accidental shootings; the majority of those killed in these tragic accidents were aged 12 or younger.
Too often these days, minors or teenagers have use their families’ unsecured firearms to intentionally carry out violence against others. The Department of Education reported that during the 2009-10 school year, one in every 30 K-12 schools took serious disciplinary action against at least one student for use or possession of a firearm on school property.
Depending on the type and number of guns you have in your possession, you may need a completely separate policy or additional rider to access insurance coverage. Depending on your gun value, your insurance company is likely to request that you keep your guns in a certified and alarmed safe for security.
Store your gun and your ammunition in different places and your guns should be unloaded when not in use. These actions simply reduce the possibility of a tragic accident.
If your budget can stretch to it, buy a gun safe with a biometric locking mechanism. These reduce unauthorized access to nearly zero.
Be a responsible gun owner and buy a gun safe and stay safe.
The Importance of Steel Thickness
The sole purpose of a gun safe is to provide maximum security. In the wrong hands, guns are a serious danger to life, so they should be stored in safes made from tough, thick high strength steel – it really is a no-brainer! You shouldn’t even consider buying a gun safe made from thin gauge steel that can be prised open with a crowbar or smashed open with a fire axe, steel thickness is essential.
Don’t get caught out by new designs that try to make a gun safe look like a standard commercial safe. They use thin steel and are consequently weaker and more easily broken into.
A quality gun safe is, more often than not, a once in a lifetime purchase, so it makes a ton of sense to buy the strongest, highest quality, most secure safe – buy the best. And remember, most gun safe owners wish they had bought a bigger one!
Gun safes are not all built the same. The most important difference in security is provided by the construction of the body and the door. The amount of steel used is critical to why some safes are more secure than others.
Steel thickness and strength
The quality of the steel used in the manufacture of a gun safe is vital in determining its strength. The better quality the steel, the greater the protection. As for thickness, if you double the thickness of the steel, it doesn’t become twice as strong, but in fact, it becomes eight times as strong. A safe made from half inch steel, is eight time stronger than a safe made from quarter inch steel plate.
Here’s another, a safe made from quarter inch steel plate is nine times stronger than a safe made from 11-gauge steel plate. The lower the gauge, the thicker the steel. As an example, 7-gauge is three-sixteenths of an inch thick, 16-gauge is one-sixteenth of an inch think, which is roughly the thickness of six aluminum soda cans. A gun safe made of steel this thin wouldn’t inspire much confidence!
Made in China
Made in China? No, don’t do it! 12-gauge US steel is three times stronger and tougher than 14-gauge Chinese steel. It is a commonly held view that Chinese steel is of a lower quality than US steel. And it is certainly cheaper being heavily subsidized by the government, which leads to cheaper end products.
The Chinese steel industry is responsible for the global overcapacity problem which has depressed prices worldwide. There is so much new and old steel in the world now that we should focus on recycling old steel, not making new steel. But back to main point, the quality of steel is vital.
Gun Safe Doors
The door is the most vulnerable part of a gun safe. When you buy a gun safe, it is very important that you check that the door is not made of thin metal, but rather thick, heavy plate steel. Open the door and you can see from looking at the edge of the door how thick the steel is. Be aware that some doors can seem massive but if they are constructed with two layers of 16-gauge steel enclosing fire resistant material, then there will be minimal steel to protect against forced entry.
Many manufacturers of gun safes make the doors of one-layer thin metal, 12-gauge or less. These doors can be easily forced open. Also bear in mind, that thin steel is lighter which is great for you when you want to move the safe for any reason. But its also pretty handy for the robber to move too! The best solution for the door is a double steel casement around the door walls. The more steel that is used in the design, the safer the end product.
Make sure that the hinges on the model you intend to buy are welded to the box frame, solid and secure.
Make sure the door is made of plate steel of at least three sixteenths of an inch thickness.
Gun Safe Body
The body of the gun safe should be made from one piece of thick quality steel, pressure formed to the correct 3-sided shape, followed by full-length welding of the top and bottom – full-length welding increases strength and safety of the final product. The majority of gun safes have a single steel body – a double steel body is more secure, tougher, provides a second heat barrier during a fire, but is more expensive.
Torch resistant stainless steel is continuously welded on all six sides. If a safecracker tries to use a torch to break into your safe, the flames will spit right back at him. This feature comes at a high cost though.
Best Gun Safes
The best gun safes are made from high quality steel, the thicker, the better. When you are looking to buy the best gun safe then the thickness and quality of the steel is one of the most important factors to consider. Remember, the price might seem good, but you are looking for good quality and good value. Don’t make a decision on price alone. Look at it as a long-term investment. You are buying safe protection for some expensive and potentially dangerous possessions.
Fireproof Gun Safes?
It is highly unlikely that the space around your gun safe will be subjected to serious fire. However, fire disasters do happen and you’ll feel better knowing that your expensive firearms and other valuables are protected with a fireproof safe.
But you should know that no safe is 100% fireproof, every safe has its limits and will fail at some point depending on its construction. Fires are different, such that gun safes made of thick steel but without any fire insulations, have survived. Cheap fireproof safes have survived smaller fires.
UL 72 Fire Safe Rating
Standardized fire ratings for safes are very important.
The UL (Underwriters Laboratories) 72 is a well-established fire rating standard in the safe industry.
The rated labelling of an insulated safe indicates the degree of protection the safe will provide its contents if exposed to a fire. The degree of protection will affect the price of the safe.
The most widely accepted label is issued by Underwriters Laboratories. However, the labelling of insulated record protection equipment is totally voluntary; no laws state that a fire drawer, cabinet, or safe must bear a label.
Different UL 72 classes cover levels of heat and duration of fire, and there are four types of test that may be performed for UL 72. These are Fire Endurance, Fire Endurance and Impact, Explosion Hazard and Combined Explosion and Impact test.
However, UL 72 testing is expensive such that the design of UL 72 gun safes changes rarely. They use tried and trusted methods. For example, fully welded inner and outer steel shells with a poured concrete amalgamate fireproofing in between.
Fireproof Gun Safe Construction
It is necessary to understand the fireproofing construction of your gun safe to know if it satisfies your requirements. The vast majority of gun safes use gypsum drywall (known as Sheetrock) for fireproofing. This product works by absorbing heat to convert water to steam, maintaining a certain temperature and level of humidity. When all the water in the gypsum is converted to steam, the fireproofing will cease to be effective. With the gypsum drywall gone, there will be virtually no insulation between the very hot out shell of the gun safe and your expensive guns. They will quickly burn.
So, gypsum drywall protection will only be effective for small, brief fires.
The best way to improve fireproofing efficiency using gypsum drywall is incorporating a fully welded steel inner shell, the thicker the better, but steel is the most expensive material in a gun safe. To reduce costs, manufacturers will use thinner steel and non-continuous welds. Gun safe manufacturers who use gypsum drywall as fireproofing don’t carry out UL 72 testing, it is too expensive, and their products would not pass the tests.
UL 72 ratings define standard levels of protection for gun safes and similar products. For gun safes that don’t pass UL 72 testing, there are no universal standards for fire rating testing in the gun safe industry.
There is no such thing as a fully fireproof gun safe, but these are the main qualities or features to consider:
- High quality construction, the better the quality, the longer the contents will survive
- Thick walls, inner and outer shells made of thick, strong steel
- High fire rating, choose a gun safe with the highest fire rating within your budget
Fireproofing and other options
When selecting a gun safe to buy, fireproofing should be number one on the list of your selection criteria, a must have. Other important criteria are:
- How many guns do I want to store
- How much space do I need
- What size safe do I need (always overestimate)
- What about other valuables
- What will be the value of all the items I want to store
- What level of security do I want, which locking system
- What level of construction quality do I need
- Has the safe undergone UL 72 testing
- And do I need this level of fireproof rating
- How long is the warranty
Fireproofing is considered to be the first consideration when buying a gun safe. Safes with the highest fireproof rating will always be the most expensive, so you must weigh up all the options and possibly compromise. Maybe you can’t afford the best product, so get the best you can afford.
What are the Different Locking Mechanisms
Gun safes come in all shapes and sizes, levels of security, quality and fireproofing, but one thing you must decide on is which locking mechanism you prefer and which is most suitable for your requirements. In common with most products, there are varying degrees of quality between the various makes and models of gun safe security systems, with corresponding variations in price.
Keys and lock
When we think of a lock, historically we think of a key. Key access provides an affordable and simple solution to the protection. A tried and trusted method of securing your guns, each key is shaped specifically to manipulate the lock’s internal tumblers into the open position. You might think that such a mechanism would make these locks susceptible to being picked, but they have come a long way since the days of those iron skeleton keys you see in the movies. Modern key and lock systems have advanced to the point where they are virtually unpickable.
Easy to use, reliable and inexpensive, just don’t lose the key.
These are the old style dial with numbers which you operate manually in the correct sequence to release the bolts. They are becoming less popular with the affordability of electronic combination locks. One downside of the combination lock is its cost of repair if they break. However, this type of locking mechanism has been used for 150 years and are considered to be proven and reliable technology. These locks are very effective in that they use mechanical parts with a long lifespan and are free of batteries and electronics. They claim to be more fire resistant than electronic locks.
These locks require very little maintenance; the tumblers will need occasional lubrication.
They are affordable and don’t use batteries, just don’t forget the numbers. And when you close the safe, don’t forget to spin the dial – if you do forget, your gun safe is not locked. To change the combination will require the services of a trained locksmith.
These are the next evolution of the manual dial locks. Electronic locks have a keypad similar to the one on your phone with numbers and letters You input your number combination on the electronic keypad in the correct sequence to release the bolts. If the combination is entered incorrectly a variety of things may happen; the lock may just not open, a time delay may be activated to delay access or an alarm may sound. The combination can be change at any time unlike the number sequence of a mechanical dial lock.
However, some are of the opinion that anything electrical is designed to fail sooner than a mechanical dial lock.
Maintenance is important for this type of lock. The battery should be replaced, say, once a year and, believe it or not, the keys themselves will show wear and tear over time and should be renewed.
The keypads are very easy and quick to use but do use a battery and don’t forget the numbers and sequence.
Biometric locking system
Biometric locks can be defined as locks that do not require keys to unlock them but instead require a personal identity. Most of these locks utilise the eye or fingerprint of the individual. However, the fingerprint lock is the most common as they can be programmed to accept multiple prints of the individuals to want to share access with.
Using biometrics for a gun safe, fingerprint identification, means you never have to worry about lost keys and forgettable codes. There is of course the added benefit that these safes can be opened in complete darkness.
The benefits of a biometrically accessed gun safe are clear – the main one is easy access. Older access systems that used a code were vulnerable to unauthorised people learning your code. Just imagine if your children learned your code by spying on you! Biometric gun safes are child-friendly. Some advanced models can also be linked to your smart devices so that you can be notified should anyone attempt to gain access to your safe when you are not around.
Radio frequency identification system on gun safes works much the same way as biometric systems, in that they emit a signal and wait for a unique code to be bounced back from the RFID chip, then the safe opens. Access should be instant. The chip is embedded in a bracelet, key fob or card and, of course, is portable – which may be a bad thing in that you can lend it to anyone.
RFID is often used on many cheap gun safes, so beware.
People own a gun for many different reasons; hunting, collecting or personal safety. But when this firearm can easily be accessed by family members or an intruder then this spells danger.
Old bulky metal boxes are still used to store firearms that have usable but ancient locking mechanisms. Installing a biometrically controlled gun safe can hugely improve gun safety. Biometrics is one of the most reliable, if not fool proof, technologies in the modern world.
However, for maintenance, reliability, longevity and warranty, the mechanical dial lock is often the best choice.
What size gun safe do I need
The first question to ask yourself is, what guns do I own but more importantly, what guns do I intend to buy. Acquiring a gun safe is a given for responsible gun owners. One thing you can guarantee, you will need a gun safe with more space inside than you think. You will be surprised what ends up in your precious gun safe, jewelry, documents and other valuables.
Choosing your gun safe can depend on several options. It can simply be a question of ensuring your gun doesn’t fall into the wrong hands, or it can be a way of protecting your expensive gun and ammunition from fire or other damage.
Don’t buy a gun safe into which your guns just fit. If you buy another gun, where is that going to go? So, buy a safe that is bigger inside than your immediate needs. Better to have plenty of spare space.
Types of gun
As far as storage is concerned, there are basically two types of gun to consider – handguns and long-barrel guns. Whichever type you own, will dictate the size of gun safe that will be best for you. If you own one or more of each basic type, then of course, you’ll need a large gun safe.
Handgun gun safes
The size of handgun safe you will need depends on how many handguns you own. There are many different types of handgun safes on the market these days, each to suit a different environment or situation; for the home closet or wall, for the office, or for the vehicle. A gun safe can fit easily into a drawer by your bed or a drawer in your office desk.
These gun safes are usually made for a single handgun and these days come with biometric or electronic locking mechanisms. These small gun safes are very secure and portable.
Slightly larger and stronger handgun safes are generally more suitable for the closet or your vehicle. They should be attached to something immovable, if not a thief could open your trunk and simply walk away with it.
Heavy duty, 14-gauge steel handgun safes are more expensive but can usually store three or four handguns.
A gun safe in the office needs to be close by. A gun safe can be hidden beneath a book shelf, secured by bolts inside a closet or mounted under your office desk for quick access. Fire resistant and waterproof gun safes will put a bigger hole in your budget.
Thieves will usually try and carry a handgun safe with them as they escape, which is much less risky than trying to pry it open in situ. So making sure your safe is anchored somehow is very important. Choosing the location for your handgun safe is important making it less likely to be found. And when choosing the type of locking mechanism, a safe with a biometric locking mechanism might save the day.
Now let’s consider the big stuff.
Long-barrel gun safes
There is a huge choice of large gun safes and cabinets, ranging in price from hundreds of dollars to many thousands of dollars, depending on the quality, the features and the size.
How many rifles or shotguns do you own? How many rifles or shotguns do you plan to own? Do you plan to store other valuables in the safe, such as documents, jewelry or money? If you do, look at safes that are bigger. Plan ahead.
Most large gun safes are approximately 1550 mm in height which is enough room for rifles plus a shelf above. However you may have noticed that gun safes are advertised as a 7-gun safe or an 11-gun safe.
The size and quality of the safe correlates directly to its price, weight and storage capacity. The quality of steel used in manufacturing any safe is vital in determining its strength. The better the quality steel, the greater the protection. The strength of steel increases by each square of thickness and thicker steel guarantees the protective potential of a safe. For example, if you double the thickness of a piece of steel, it does not merely become twice as strong, but approximately 8 times as strong. A safe door made from a ¼ inch thick steel plate is over 9 times stronger than that made from 11-gauge steel.
Another item that you may not have considered is a dehumidifier. Yes, you do need one. Dehumidifiers protect your guns from the moisture that causes corrosion. This will take up some space.
So, the best advice is go bigger than you think you need. Think of all the gun accessories that need to be stored safely; ammunition, cleaning kits, straps, holsters, magazines and knives. It could be a long list.
Gun Laws in Different States
The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution enacted in December 1791 protects the rights of the people to keep and bear arms. Now, in reaction to multiple mass shootings, amongst other gun-related incidents, there are moves to repeal or modernize the law.
Gun laws in the USA regulate the sale, possession and use of firearms and ammunition. State laws, and the laws of Washington D.C. and the U.S territories, vary considerably and are independent of existing federal firearms laws, although they are sometimes broader and more limited in scope than the federal laws.
In the United States, firearm-related injuries, including suicides, homicides and accidental shootings, killed 38,700 people in 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, up from 33,600 in 2014. Despite the rising death toll, laws regulating firearms are an inconsistent patchwork, with little federal oversight.
Many of the laws regulating access to firearms have been passed at the state level, with few federal regulations that apply to the whole country. Often these state laws are intended to prevent certain individuals from obtaining guns or limit access to particular types of weapons, such as assault rifles.
Here is a comprehensive guide to state gun laws.
Types of legislation
Red flag laws
These laws apply where the State allows law enforcement (and family members in certain states) to seek a court order to confiscate firearms from any person who represents a threat to themselves or others. Rhode Island are in the vanguard here, with Illinois, Maryland and New Jersey considering similar measures.
These laws require that any person who becomes disqualified from possessing a firearm must relinquish that firearm.
Assault weapons ban
These laws prohibit the sale of assault weapons. After the Federal Assault Weapons Ban expired in 2014, there followed a 239% increase in related deaths.
High-capacity magazine ban
Laws ban or restrict the sale of assault pistol ammunition, high-capacity magazines and detachable firearm magazines that can hold more than a certain number of rounds of ammunition.
Prohibitions for high-risk individuals
Firearm possession is prohibited for those convicted of a felony or a violent misdemeanor, those with a history of mental health, drug or alcohol issues, or those considered by the court to be dangerous.
Prohibitions for individuals with domestic violence convictions
Firearm possession is prohibited for those convicted of domestic violence, those with a domestic-violence-related restraining order or those convicted of stalking. Alabama, Louisiana, Nevada, Tennessee, Utah and several other states enacted laws that prevent people convicted of domestic violence from possessing a gun. Nearly 30 states now have similar laws, and Oregon passed a similar bill recently.
Mandatory universal background checks
The State requires a background check either at the point of purchase or through a permit requirement, including sales through private dealers and at gun shows. Background checks are making the biggest impact on reducing gun fatalities.
New laws loosen gun restrictions
Despite numerous gun-related tragedies and focus on gun ownership restrictions, it is a fact that more new laws have been enacted that loosen gun laws rather than tighten them. How a state reacts to mass shootings depends on who controls its legislature. And in the case of the states that increased access to firearms, most were controlled by Republicans.
Governors in Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas and Texas, signed bills that would allow people with concealed carry licenses to bring guns onto college campuses, joining seven other states with similar laws.
New laws in at least five states; Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota and West Virginia, allow gun owners to carry loaded firearms without a permit or training. So-called “permitless” carry laws now are in effect in more than 10 states.
Protection by carrying a gun seems to be increasing.
What is next for states
According to recent polls, two-thirds of Americans now support stricter gun control laws. And 90% of Americans support improved background checks for gun purchases.
The governors of Rhode Island, Illinois, Maryland and New Jersey are or will sign “ref flag” executive orders.
The governors of Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and Rhode Island have joined forces to create a “States for Gun Safety” coalition to expand gun safety efforts.
The governor of Florida has proposed raising the age to buy an assault rifle.
But many states are a long way from enacting new gun restrictions. Some states are finding it difficult to pass bills that would ban so-called bump stocks, which allow assault weapons to fire continuously. The Las Vegas gunman used a bump stock to quickly shoot more than 500 people.
It will be a long process to introduce gun restrictions. For many people, keeping a firearm is part of tradition.
Your Most Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Do I need a gun safe?
Yes, you do. Every responsible gun owner needs a gun safe. Guns are deadly weapons and extremely dangerous in the wrong hands. Homeowners could prevent almost all firearm accidents by taking the proper precautions. When keeping guns secure, proper storage in the form a gun safe can be the most effective way pf preventing accidents.
Safe storage laws require people to responsibly store their firearms and ammunition when they are not in use in order to prevent minors, thieves, and other unauthorized users from gaining unsupervised access to deadly weapons.
Q. Are gun safes fireproof?
No, not all gun safes are fireproof. Gun safes are fire resistant, not fireproof. Small, cheap gun safes are not expected to be fireproof. Most safes have a fire rating. The rated labelling of an insulated safe indicates the degree of protection the safe will provide its contents if exposed to a fire. The degree of protection will affect the price of the safe.
When you see a 30 minute rating that means the interior of the safe stayed less than 350° up until 30 minutes.
Q. Do I need a dehumidifier in my gun safe?
While you gun safe is built to withstand unauthorized entry and high temperature, it may not be able protect against internal moisture. To avoid rust, corrosion and mildew, it is good idea to install a dehumidifier.
There are two types of dehumidifier, desiccant and electric. Desiccant dehumidifiers, silica gel based products, draw moisture from inside the gun safe. They are cheap but need to be replaced fairly often. Electric dehumidifiers are ideal for those living in humid climates. More expensive but do an excellent job of removing moisture from inside your gun safe.
Q. How big a gun safe do I need?
Buy a gun safe that is bigger inside than your immediate needs. Better to have plenty of spare space.
Q. Are gun safes airtight?
No, probably not, which is why you need to remove any moisture from inside.
Q. Should gun safes be anchored down?
Yes, if possible, but it is not always practical. Most car gun safes are light enough to be easily removed, so they can be anchored down, say, in the trunk using a steel security cable. In the home they can be bolted down.
Q. What do gun safes cost?
There are thousands of gun safes on the market, ranging in price from $50 to $5,000. The price you pay depends on the size, quality and features. As usual, you get what you pay for.
Q. What are better, internal or external hinges?
The placement of the hinge makes absolutely no difference to the security of the safe and are for a matter of convenience in opening the safe. Internal can only open 90° and External can open up to 180°.
Q. What is the best location for a gun safe?
The best place for a gun safe is a strong solid floor to anchor your safe, a convenient location to encourage you to use it, one with plenty of light to operate the locking mechanism.
Q. What is biometric locking?
A gun safe with biometric locking is one that does away with combinations, pass codes and keys relying only on your fingerprint or palm impression to provide access. A biometric system basically takes in your fingerprints, codes a digital signature based on your unique fingerprint pattern and remembers it for future use. Each time you press your fingers onto the synching pad or the sensors, the fingerprints are coded into a digital form and compared with the previously fed in digital code. A match opens the safe, a mismatch sounds an alert or locks the safe down until it is disengaged with the correct fingerprint.
Q. Will my gun safe need maintenance?
Yes. Over a period of time, the locks, bolts and hinges will need cleaning, lubrication and adjustment. Your local locksmith will be able to provide these services.
Q. How important is steel thickness?
Very. The thicker the steel, the better protection.
Q. Can I fit a new electronic lock to replace an old dial lock?
Yes. Most older safes with a dial lock can be retro fitted with an electronic lock. Check with your dealer or manufacturer.
Q. If my battery dies, will I lose my combination?
No. The combination is retained in the lock even if power is lost.
Q. What is lock out mode?
This occurs when you have entered the wrong code too many times, normally locking you out for 5-15 minutes depending on the lock manufacturer. Do nothing for that period and especially do not take out the batteries.